Are you correctly pricing your graphic design?

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Original Post

One of my missions on Etsy is to have people get paid properly for their services. Too many Estians are under charging for graphic design. Check out this article.

Are you self-employed? Freelancing? Consulting? Perhaps you’re looking for a designer and want to know how they set their rates?

How much to charge a client is one of the most talked about topics in self-employment, and here I offer points to consider for designers setting their graphic design pricing.

First things first, remember you have a skill
You’re offering clients a service. You have a talent that they don’t, and they’re willing to pay good money for it. You’re not in competition with the client’s neighbour’s son, who has a copy of Adobe Photoshop, and if you ever think you are, please read carefully. Far too many designers are undervaluing the wealth of knowledge and experience they’ve amassed because they’re trying to compete with amateurs. Don’t devalue your profession. People expect to pay top dollar for a quality service.

Remember, “You get what you pay for.”

Your range of graphic design services
Let’s take a look at what services a typical self-employed graphic designer will offer. There are two main categories:

Online projects range from full blown corporate websites and strategies to image preparation and blog headers. Traditionally, this would be the realm of the web designer / developer, but more and more we’re seeing an overlap where the majority of print-based designers are broadening their horizons and learning web code. There’s still a huge print industry, and many designers specialise successfully, but there is a shift.

Offline projects include corporate identity (logos, business cards, letterheads) and all printed promotions (annual reports, magazines, billboards). Here’s where your knowledge of the printing industry comes into play. Not for the faint-hearted, commercial printing is a fast-paced environment where just one typo can cost you thousands of pounds in an instant. Here are 12 money-saving questions to ask on commercial printing (and some excellent comments added by readers). Offline projects are also usually formatted for online use, because a corporate logo is seen across the board, and annual reports / newsletters / leaflets can be made available for download from the company website.

It’s not unusual for a client to expect all of the above from just one graphic designer. Now that’s a lot of expertise, and you deserve to be compensated for it. Traditionally, the role of the graphic designer was incredibly specialised, but today, a designer must wear many hats.

Let’s take a look at a few individual projects:

Logo design
Forget those DIY logo design websites, where you can collect your pre-made generic identity for $100. There’s a lot of work that goes into a logo design, and it’s your job to let your client know just how much. If you don’t, they’ll think you just jump in front of a computer, type their company name and add a little swirl or squiggle, for ‘visual interest’.

Competition, differentiation, market-positioning, audience profiles… these are just a few of the topics that must be researched in order to design an effective logo.

Website design
The planning that goes into a website is very often under-estimated by a client. With websites, as opposed to logos, the client is more aware of exactly what they’re spending their money on. A cowboy designer could produce a logo design on the fly, without asking any questions. It’s much harder for them to do the same with the development of a website. Check the resources below for some nice articles on web design pricing.

“David, just tell me how much it costs!”
You might’ve noticed that not once have I mentioned any monetary value. There’s a good reason for this too. Very few days go by when I don’t receive a quote request similar to this:

“We need a website for our restaurant, and a logo design too. We’re behind schedule so would appreciate a quote ASAP. Please let us know how much this costs and how long it will take to complete.”

That’s when I direct people to my client questionnaire forms, letting them know that it’s impossible to give an accurate design quote without more information about the project. Graphic design briefs come in very useful too.

Third party resources
Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines
What Everyone Ought to Know About Web Design Pricing
The economics of web design pricing
4 steps to effective web design pricing
6 Reasons Why a Logo Should Cost More than your Lunch

Posted at 1:55pm Jun 9, 2008 EDT


I've always felt that graphic designers are underpricing themselves here too.

Posted at 1:57pm Jun 9, 2008 EDT

audzipan says

it's hard to price graphic design! especially when the alchemy requests want a logo for $5. . .

Posted at 1:59pm Jun 9, 2008 EDT

A logo for $5? Who are they kidding?

That's why I don't look at alchemy I guess...

Posted at 2:01pm Jun 9, 2008 EDT

This is why I posted this article. We need to bring awareness to graphic designers and those needing their work that logos should cost more than your lunch. It is hard to price graphic design here. I was pissed when I once saw a logo for 25 cents. I just about died.

Posted at 2:08pm Jun 9, 2008 EDT

AnnRan says

Thanks for posting this! I too think that folks undervalue their work - it takes skill to design logos and create web sites. And it took years to develop those skills! That deserves fair compensation, as does ANY creative process.

I recently did a relatively quick logo at no charge for a local family music event. I pointed out to the woman that contacted me that it took me an hour just to formulate my replies to her assorted e-mails and bounce around some ideas before I even started drawing!! In the end it only took about 2.5 hours total, and they were able to take my draft and do some work with it themselves, so that was nice as it saved me some of that "back & forth" time.

Posted at 2:09pm Jun 9, 2008 EDT

tanybug says

great post!
this is a very important issue IMO.

Posted at 2:10pm Jun 9, 2008 EDT

this is tough. i've done a lot of corporate work. you can't charge the general public the same price you would for company branding obviously. you're rendering an entirely different service when you're designing a simple shop logo vs a company identity. I feel for folks who offer graphic design on here. You would really have to limit the time spent on a logo just to make sure you're making a decent rate on it. It would be very difficult to price graphic services offered to other Etsians. I'm sure they're already very aware if they're underselling themselves.

Posted at 2:13pm Jun 9, 2008 EDT

mintage says

It's true... and with Alchemy, price gets even lower with all the competition out there... my partner asked me how much I charged for something recently and his response was "People in India are getting paid more than you!"... he sees me communicating back and forth, making minor tweaks here and there...

The thing is, here on Etsy, some of us are just starting out and selling to others that are just starting out. Those selling want to get experience and "established" and those new shops don't have the big bucks to pay for the design services...

In the end, I'm ok with the prices I charge. I do think that I'm probably under-charging, but will slowly adjust prices in the near (hopefully!) future. Thanks for all the info OP!

Posted at 2:19pm Jun 9, 2008 EDT

dippylulu says

Victoriasart says:
This is why I posted this article. We need to bring awareness to graphic designers and those needing their work that logos should cost more than your lunch. It is hard to price graphic design here. I was pissed when I once saw a logo for 25 cents. I just about died.


That's exactly why I would never offer my design services on here.

Posted at 2:25pm Jun 9, 2008 EDT